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a method to challenge anxious thoughts and recover cbt mindfulness technique train your brain
I’ve been in and out of all sorts of mental health services since I was fifteen and to be honest, it’s all been pretty useless. (I honestly think NHS mental health services are less than acceptable, but don’t get me started.) I’m now 20, and frustrated. Five years without a helpful therapy or a doctor I ever felt comfortable enough with, but you can’t be picky on the NHS can you? You have to get what you’re (finally,) given and suffer.

That’s why I took the plunge and went searching online for a private therapist. It’s obviously very expensive, but if you’re willing to try anything because you’re so fed up - it’s a small price to pay for the therapist that finally helps. 

The first thing we started to tackle was my anxiety. Anxiety surrounding generally going outside, seeing people, feeling judged and uncomfortable just for breathing, being terrified of doing something to embarrass myself, y'know? And after explaining for a long time about these thoughts and feelings and how it took such a toll, she told me to write down the following list of questions:

1. What am I afraid might happen?
2. What is the evidence that supports my thoughts?
3. What is the evidence that does not support my thoughts? 
4. What is the worst that could happen?
5. How could I cope with it?
6. What is another way of looking at this situation? 

She told me to challenge all of my anxious thoughts with this method of thinking, and that if I practised enough and drilled it into my head, eventually it would just become my natural way of thinking.

For example, an anxious thought could be, "everyone is staring at me."And this is how I would challenge that thought with the process she told me to write down...

1.What am I afraid might happen?
I’m afraid everyone is looking at me and judging me.

2.What is the evidence that supports my thought?
I saw a few people look at me. 

3.What is the evidence that does not support my thought?
I looked at a few people, and they weren’t looking back at me. 

4.What is the worst that could happen?
People could look at me and judge me, just like I fear.

5. How could I cope with it?
Understand that as humans, we all look at other people when we’re out, it’s normal and natural. I look at people, I judge people. I’m no exception to the way humans are. I could smile at the people I see looking at me, so they don’t judge me badly and I feel like a nice person. 

6. What is another way of looking at this situation?
Nobody actually gives a f*ck what I’m doing, or how I look, they just happened to look at me because I was in their line of vision. If they make it obvious they’re staring at me, it’s possible they think my outfit is good, or my make up, or they recognise me. To be honest, there’s billions and billions of people on earth so it’s very unlikely I’ll see these people again, they don’t know me, they’re out and about doing their own thing, it doesn’t matter if they do judge me. We all judge naturally, I judge. They might stare at me, but in 10 minutes  they’ll stare at someone else and forget about me. 

I hope this helped you if you also suffer with anxious thoughts that take a toll on your daily life. It’s also really good to write down every anxious thought you have and go through the process. Eventually, it will drill into your mind and your way of thinking will gradually improve. Thanks to this mantra from my therapist, I’ve been able to do things I couldn’t cope with before, like going out in public to take outfit shots for Instagram. It gets easier every time. 

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